The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has brought to end a seven-year $41.6 million U.S. government-funded Feed the Future Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE II) activity.
In a virtual event culminating the end of the programme, participants discussed how the ADVANCE II activity aided in addressing and mitigating the stressors the pandemic placed on the agribusiness sector in the country.
Speaking at the event, USAID/Ghana Deputy Mission Director Janean Davis lauded the ADVANCE II activity for contributing to the productivity and profitability of more than 145,000 smallholder farmers in partnership with U.S. private sector, the Government of Ghana, Ghanaian agribusinesses, financial institutions, and telecommunications companies, as well as other development partners.
“The work completed this past year to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 has been truly remarkable. None of it could have been accomplished if we did not work together toward a common vision: to lift each other up, one person and one village at a time, and in so doing build a stronger, more self-reliant Ghana,” she noted.
Participants included the Government of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Regional Coordinating Councils, representatives of the regional outgrower business networks, the National Seed Traders Association of Ghana, the National Board for Small-Scale Industries, the Ghana Commodity Exchange, the Ghana Health Service, development partners, and local organizations.
In May 2020, the Feed the Future ADVANCE II activity, conducted a rapid assessment to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Ghana’s agribusiness sector.
Using its assessment findings, USAID developed solutions to mitigate pandemic-related supply chain and agribusiness service disruptions, USAID distributed personal protective equipment and hygiene kits to 22,650 farmers and conducted COVID-19 sensitization campaigns in communities, established a relief grant program that provided farm inputs such as fertilizer to 1,000 smallholder farmers; promoted and linked farmers to locally-bred seed varieties and supported over 80 outgrower businesses in their loan applications to access a portion of the 600 million cedi Coronavirus Alleviation Program.
In Ghana, the United States has provided almost $19 million to address immediate impacts of COVID-19 by helping to strengthen health systems.
ADVANCE II is the flagship activity under Feed the Future, a U.S. government initiative to end global hunger. The seven-year, $41.6 million project, ADVANCE II is implemented by international development non-profit organization, ACDI/VOCA, in the Northern, North East, Upper East, and Upper West Regions of Ghana.
The project aims to strengthen market systems and build the capacity of outgrower businesses who are commercial farmers, aggregators and traders in providing agribusiness services to smallholder farmers.
ADVANCE II also facilitates market linkages between the outgrower business and input suppliers, equipment dealers, financial institutions, processing firms, end buyers and other relevant value chain actors.
Since its inception in 2014, the activity provided critical support to increase the average yields of maize by (307%), rice (114%), and soybean (176%). The activity also increased the volume of produce sold by 987,322 metric tons, resulting in total incremental sales valued at over $146 million.
ADVANCE II also helped increase smallholder farmers’ gross margins by 112% (from $278 to $589) for maize, 254% (from $256 to $906) for rice, and 96% (from $290 to $569) for soybean.